In the world of wearable tech, Apple has once again taken center stage with the launch of the Apple Watch Series 9. Starting at $399, the Series 9 debuts alongside the Apple Watch Ultra 2 on Sept. 22, promising enhanced features powered by a new, upgraded chip. The key upgrades in the Series 9 include faster Siri performance and a new gesture control feature known as Double Tap, distinguishing it from its predecessor, the Series 8. While these improvements make the Apple Watch more user-friendly, they might not be sufficient to entice recent buyers to upgrade.
The Series 9’s new features, such as Double Tap, may not immediately demonstrate their usefulness but could prove to be valuable in the long run. Double Tap, while requiring some acclimatization, allows users to dismiss notifications and easily navigate back to the watch face. The Siri update, which includes the ability to answer health-related questions using locally processed data, is expected to roll out later this year and could significantly enhance the Series 9’s utility as a health tracker. However, the Series 9 misses out on certain desired features such as extended battery life and the Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button, making it a solid upgrade primarily for users with older models.
Inside the New Apple Watch Series 9: Double Tap Gesture, Faster Siri, and More
The Apple Watch Series 9 is here, starting at $399 (£399, AU$649), and it’s the enhanced internals that shine the brightest. The new watch, which launches alongside the Apple Watch Ultra 2 on September 22, has an upgraded chip for faster Siri performance and introduces new gesture controls called Double Tap. These additions separate the Series 9 from last year’s Series 8, making the Apple Watch more user-friendly. However, these tweaks may not be significant enough to convince recent buyers to upgrade.
A Closer Look at Double Tap and Siri Updates
One of the exciting additions to the Series 9 is the Double Tap feature. Triggered by tapping your index finger and thumb together twice, this feature allows you to dismiss a notification, pause your timer, or access widgets from the watch face, among other actions. However, this feature has a bit of a learning curve and doesn’t feel intuitive yet. It might take some time for users to adapt, but it could prove useful in the long run.
Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, has also received a speed boost on the Series 9, thanks to the new S9 processor. Siri can now answer certain requests that do not require internet connectivity, such as setting alarms or timers, right on the watch. This upgrade also makes Siri up to 25 percent more accurate in understanding dictation.
Improved iPhone Finding Capabilities
The Apple Watch Series 9 is now better at finding your iPhone, thanks to the second-generation ultra-wideband chip inside. Along with pinging your iPhone, the Series 9 can also show an estimate of how far you are from your phone, guiding you in the right direction. However, this feature only works with iPhones equipped with the new ultra-wideband chip, such as the iPhone 15 or iPhone 15 Pro.
Health Features and Battery Life
The Series 9 inherits the same health and safety features as its predecessor, the Series 8. These include ECG, temperature sensing, blood-oxygen detection, heart-rate notifications, sleep stage tracking, fall detection, and more. However, the battery life remains the same as the Series 8, rated for 18 hours. This means that on a single charge, it should last for one to 1.5 days, depending on usage.
Although the Series 9 feels like a minor upgrade over the Series 8, it offers new features like Precision Finding and faster Siri performance, making it a better smartphone companion. If you’re a first-time buyer or own an older model like the Series 6, the Series 9 could be worth the upgrade. However, for current owners of the Series 8, it might not offer enough new features to justify the upgrade.
The Series 9, with its new features, points to a promising direction for the Apple Watch. As has been Apple’s pattern over the years, the company alternates between introducing new health sensors and launching updates related to convenience and user experience. The Series 9 represents the latter, and while it feels like a refreshed version of the Series 8, we might see its new features evolve and become more helpful over time.